Sassy, No Spoilers: Beach Read

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Romance novelist meets literary novelist? Love? Okay…

So, Romance really isn’t my jam. Call me a cynic, a curmudgeon. I don’t really enjoy “contemporary love stories” unless they were written by Nora Ephron (or are Bridget Jones, my guilty pleasure read), and anything else falls short (change my mind?).

BUT.

I’m also one of those people that enjoys “seeing what all the fuss is about” with popular books (see: Twilight, Where the Crawdads Sing) so that I can complain about how overrated they are, but intelligently and with bodies of evidence backing up my loathing (see: Twilight, Where the Crawdads Sing). The only book I couldn’t get through (or past a sentence, actually), was the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, in which case I might point to a lengthy Target receipt and boldly state that it was better penned.

I’m nowhere near a beach. So I Googled images of nice beaches at work.

Anyway, everyone in the Book of the Month community was losing their minds over Beach Read, as a light-hearted, fun Romance for “the rest of us,” the skeptical snobs who turn up their noses at Danielle Steel and Nicholas Sparks. (Guilty.)

And reader. I was disappointed. I found myself eye-rolling and skimming through many of the mushy-gushy scenes because it was just so over the top as to be pure fantasy. I felt the author was coming from a good place, but I just found the protagonist weak and not as full of venom as the dust-jacket copy promised (and for someone who clearly understands the mechanics of a novel, as she wrote them into the book very clearly for the two “writers,” the promise of the premise was a huge letdown).

So what’s it about, anyway?

A woman (and popular Romance writer), reeling from the sudden death of her father, inherits his beach house that he shared with his secret lover. And who lives next door? None other than the protagonist’s enemy from college. Another writer. A literary one. Trouble ensues, they end up making a bet that the other can’t write a novel in the same genre. Sexual tension builds, of course, which comes with its own set of problems.

I got through it, and I can see the appeal. And I really don’t enjoy negative reviews, so instead I will note the good things about this novel.

  1. It reminded me of a lot of relationships in my 20s, and the stupid things I did that makes me cringe now. Personal! Growth!
  2. The man’s name is Gus, which is my dog’s name, though I do not think my Gus cares.
  3. It was a nice brain break away from all the thrillers I’ve been terrifying myself with.
  4. It broadened my horizons in a genre I don’t normally read.

And there you go. While it wasn’t necessarily my cup of coffee, I’ll recommend BR to:

  • Romance enthusiasts with a positive outlook on love, not a skeptical one for those of us ruined by reading too many Stephen King/Chuck Palahniuk/Flannery O’Connor stories.
  • People on a beach (though there’s a huge lack of actually being on the beach in this book?).
  • Book clubs looking for something that won’t make everyone blush TOO terribly.
  • Someone that needs a flippin’ break from too many scary books in a row.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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